Legion somehow manages to top itself every week as we get some long-awaited reveals and a visually stunning confrontation between Summerland and the Shadow King as the gang fights to escape this prison of the mind. Luckily, they get help from some unexpected sources.
The episode begins with us still at Clockworks, bathed in red light, but things seem to be going haywire. Kerry is still on the run from Walter, who continues his calm pursuit. She ducks into a room and waits as Walter walks past her hiding spot.
In a map room that is David’s mind, The Devil with Yellow Eyes, or Lenny, asks Amy to tell her about when David came to live with her. Amy explains that she was four years old at the time.
We flash back to one night when Amy heard voices, so she snuck out onto the landing, where she spotted her parents caring for a young boy who had been brought to them by a man. For a long time, Amy thought he was a dream. A frustrated Lenny demands to know what David did with something his father apparently gave him.
Oh, and there’s a glimpse of a very familiar wheelchair. You saw it. You know you did.
In the astral plane, Cary joins Oliver in his ice cube. Oliver is confused about Daylight Savings Time and doesn’t find it interesting, as he thought it meant literally saving daylight. Cary is glad to see Oliver, but Oliver has no memory of Melanie. Hell, he thinks that she’s Asian. Oliver has been watching David and this monster, which can’t find Cary in this place. The monster is using David’s power to strengthen his own.
Oliver then asks Cary if he’s a tenor, as he intends to start a barbershop quartet with David. Sure. But Oliver does know the monster’s identity, as he read David’s mind when he was in the astral plane. It’s name is Amahl Farouk, and Farouk is clever, but it puts all its energy into focusing on David. Cary, then realizes that the monster disguised itself as a dog named King, or rather, Shadow King.
Right now, everyone’s bodies are in a jumble and they could die soon. This monster is too powerful for Oliver, and if David could escape the corner of his mind where he’s locked away, he could break everyone out of the dream. To visualize this, Cary and Oliver then see David screaming from the other side of the ice cube. Soon, the Shadow King will become David.
As Oliver pours another drink, Cary goes to the wall and remembers the halo device he created that could go onto David’s head. This could both block and isolate the Shadow King, ending the Clockworks fantasy. Oliver has frozen time in David and Amy’s house, but just for now. Everyone will be needed for this.
We then jump to the end of the previous episode as Cary awakens Syd from her slumber. She follows him into a white space, where they enter a tube. Cary assures Syd that the monster can’t hear them here. The hospital isn’t real, but Syd is ahead of the curve and already knows that this is a mental projection. The bodies are still in David’s memory, so when time starts again, they’ll be killed. So the monster needs to be distracted.
This, in turn, will end the hospital fantasy, so Syd will save the others while Cary fixes their situation. To help Syd and the others get through Clockworks, Cary gives her several pairs of glasses that help will distinguish what’s real and isn’t. For now, Syd needs to maintain the illusion. Cary will send a signal when ready.
Syd returns to Clockworks, which is now run amok, and puts on the glasses. Her world goes black and white and suddenly, the patients vanish.
As for David, he’s still locked away and screaming. We’ll get back to him.
Meanwhile, Melanie enters the room at David and Amy’s home just as The Eye opens fire on David and Amy. She approaches the mirror just as Cary steps out of it. He and Oliver instruct her on how to move the bodies, but Oliver, upon introducing himself to Melanie, realizes that Melanie seems familiar to him. Cary has his halo device ready.
As Melanie enters the hallway, she stops when she spots blood dripping upward to the ceiling. She then finds Rudy dead. As Melanie whispers to him, we flash back to his time in Clockworks while Syd continues to search for the others. She soon finds Rudy, as well as Kerry, who is trying to block the rabid inmates from entering the room. Syd approaches and places a pair of glasses on her, while also cautioning her to maintain the act.
David attempts to calm down and rationalize that he’s in a mental coffin. But another, British speaking version of himself- I guess Dan Stevens wanted to speak in his natural accent for once- chides him for giving up control and getting tricked by David. They need to escape before this parasite takes control of their body forever. British David asks how they can be underground when they’re not even inside their body.
If there’s no body or ground, then there’s no coffin. Just an idea. David is then told to imagine a classroom. We enter said classroom as British David tells David to forget everything from Summerland. He knows what the monster knows, so go back to the beginning. For starters, David is adopted. He begins to write down his memories on the chalkboard.
He wonders why neither his parents nor Amy told him, but he comes back around and focuses on the fact that Lenny must have known David’s father. That thing upstairs isn’t Lenny, but a parasite that’s been with David since he was a baby. Points. That goes on the board. So David remembers that he did indeed have parents, and this monster fought David’s father.
Not a physical, fight, but it was a mental battle in the astral plane. David can’t picture his father, but he imagines that Dad won. The monster’s mind or being didn’t die, but its mind floated off. Dad went home and soon after, David was born, but Mom and Dad decided to give him away. David momentarily wonders if their parents didn’t want him, but he snaps back to it and realizes that he is loved.
Maybe Dad worried that David wasn’t safe, so to protect him, he gave him up for adoption. Somehow, the monster kept watch and soon found David, and then possessed him for revenge. This, in turn, made David sick. The powers didn’t help and this monster poisoned David for his entire life, but also fed on him for power because it was weak. As a result, David made it stronger because of his powers. But it kept feeding.
David remembers that Lenny said that the only being that matters is God, so the monster fed so it could get its revenge. Then Syd woke David up and the monster realized it couldn’t hide anymore. The mind is in the astral plane, but the body is elsewhere. David realizes that Melanie was wrong. He’s not sick anymore.
As for what happens now, David’s going to get his body back. He leaves the classroom and prepares his escape.
Back in Clockworks, Syd, Kerry, and Rudy continue down the corridor while keeping a lookout for David and the others.
In the old family home,in David’s mind, Cary and Melanie try to move the bodies, but are unsuccessful. So to the tune of music and using some sort of energy in the form of musical notes, Oliver offers his assistance.
This music continues as David escapes his prison and walks through his memory. Then Legion turns into a silent film as Walter tackles Kerry and knocks off her glasses, forcing her to contend with the illusions around her. Lenny confronts Syd and Kerry, but then takes relieves Walter of his duties by killing him- he dies at the same time in David and Amy’s home.
Lenny saunters over to Syd and Kerry when she spots Oliver mucking up her plan and placing a barrier around David and Syd, so she heads to the house and knocks out Oliver before returning to Syd and Kerry.
David, meanwhile, uses his powers as the corridor around him begins to explode. Then Rudy surprises Lenny from behind and whisks her away.
Cary finally places the halo on David’s head and everyone returns to their actual bodies as the Clockworks illusion finally ends. David spins Syd around just as he manages to catch the bullets. Eat that, Quicksilver!
So the gang’s all here as everyone, Amy included, heads to Summerland, but Cary instructs David not to remove the halo because the monster isn’t gone- just isolated.
Melanie goes off ahead and heads to the chamber in Summerland where the diving suit is housed, but there’s no body inside. She then hears and follows a voice where she finds Oliver serving food to the others. Kerry, meanwhile, is upset at Cary for leaving her when she needed him.
Amy tries to apologize to David for not telling him about being adopted, not to mention his mutant powers. She admits that David should’ve come to live with her and Ben, but David says that they’ll figure this all out later. Then, out of nowhere, David spots the figure from his book. Surprise, surprise. Cary cautions him not to move the halo too much because of the connection, but David wants this thing out of him as fast as possible.
So Cary, Kerry, Ptonomy, Syd, and David head through the woods towards Cary’s lab when they, as well as Melanie and Oliver, find themselves surrounded by Division Three soldiers, led by The Interrogator, who is now sporting a half-burned face.
David reaches deep within his mind, where Lenny, the angry boy, the Devil, every manifestation of the parasite rages within the dark coffin. However, the surface of the coffin soon cracks. Well, Lenny won’t be confined for long after all.
Damn. Just damn. With the season finale upon us soon, Legion has ratcheted up the action, storyline, and suspense that took the characters out of their limbo, brought what’s left of Division Three back into the fold, and buried the Shadow King just deep enough for Lenny ready to make her reappearance in the coming episode.
But we’ll touch upon that later because let’s get to David first and foremost. Okay, so the show has both identified Lenny as the Shadow King by name and confirmed that David Haller is indeed the son of Charles Xavier- two things many a viewer or X-Men fan had pieced together by now. Not just from that quick wheelchair shot, but it’s no accident that David sees his father as a bald man in a suit with telepathic abilities.
Now I doubt this means that we’re going to see either Patrick Stewart or possibly James McAvoy pop in for a quick cameo, but between this show getting a second season, Hawley saying that Legion has to earn the right to be a part of the X-Men film universe, and Patrick Stewart’s enthusiasm at the idea of appearing in Legion as Charles Xavier, I have to imagine that it’s at least in the works down the pipeline.
But despite this reveal, there’s still a lot more left in the air. What is this thing Lenny wants that David’s father gave him? And did Charles really believe that sending David to live with new parents would get rid of the Shadow King’s presence? That’s somehow less plausible than just trying to place a mental block, like he did with Jean in X-Men: The Last Stand.
But despite all the mystery still surrounding this, the entire scene of David piecing the puzzle together helped him come to terms with who he is, realize who has helped him along the way, and tap into his power to escape this mental prison, the same way Lenny helped him before so she wouldn’t be remain imprisoned.
I like the idea of using a classroom setting not just so David can illustrate his childhood, but because he’s learning a lesson about himself and what better or expected environment to learn in than a classroom?
And what better mentor than your British self? There’s something very meta about hearing Dan Steven’s natural British accent as the voice of reason for David’s dilemma. If anything, I see British David as the kind of man David wants to be: calm and, for the most part, in control, while David is jittery, uncertain, and reckless. It’s a good way to visualize two sides of his personality while also showing who David could be with focus.
Like Oliver indicated, he was unable to stop the Shadow King, but David could, so imagine what David could do if he was always in full control of his thoughts and powers without someone or something else pulling his strings. It would give weight to what The Interrogator said in the pilot when he said David had the potential to be the most powerful mutant ever encountered.
It’s repetitive at this point to say that watching Legion is a very trippy, visual experience, but director Dennie Gordon and writer Jennifer Yale took what was already insane and visceral about Lenny’s Clockworks and take that up to another level through a fast paced sequence that, I’ll be honest, turned me off for a moment.
I lean more towards slower, methodical storytelling, but we’re approaching the finale and the characters are more frantic than ever to escape Lenny’s game. So the storytelling and pacing should mirror that. And Legion has played with visuals as a way to enhance the story since the pilot, so for Clockworks to go from filled with insane inmates to no inmates to a silent film altogether felt unlike anything we’ve seen in other comic adaptations.
Legion challenges your perception and makes you question what’s real, but rewards you for weeks of buildup, suspense, and tension on a show that has already been filled with great sequences. The entire confrontation here is no different with silent film title cards, Lenny dressing like something from a Tim Burton film, Walter being contorted and twisted around like a Tetris piece, and David unleashing his power to free the others.
And even though some of these revelations come across as exposition, more so the conversation between Oliver and Cary, Legion, just like Fargo, allows for moments of levity in between serious situations. And even though Syd finishes a lot of what Cary tries to explain, it’s rewarding to see her still on top of the situation, as she was in the previous episode, and one step ahead of the others in her effort to rescue David.
And to go off on a tangent here, while Fox is often criticized for not taking full advantage of the female roster of X-Men characters- though Dafne Keen was a force to be reckoned with in Logan– it’s satisfying to see female mutants here, even if they’re new characters, given such weight and dimension instead of being two-dimensional.
I’ve lavished over Aubrey Plaza’s performance before, but after this season ends, it’s going to be strange imagining this is the same actress who gave us someone like April on Parks and Rec or Julie in Scott Pilgrim. Plaza, while still fun to watch, transforms into something different and scarier as the Shadow King. If you want a great villain, you want someone whose fun to watch, but you don’t want them to overshadow everyone else.
That was the case with the Joker in The Dark Knight and I’d say the same applies to Lenny. While a constant presence, Lenny isn’t inserted into every single frame or pushed to get more screen time than the others. Plaza’s performance gives Lenny more of a presence unlike anything I’ve seen in her prior. Though Lenny was originally intended to be a man, I can’t imagine anyone besides Plaza doing this performance.
But even though we’re out of Clockworks, it’s clear that this is the calm before the storm and we aren’t out of the woods yet. We see that Kerry takes issue with Cary leaving her, even if it was for the greater mission, Oliver doesn’t recognize Melanie, despite all the time she’s spent trying to bring him back, David still had a flash of the Angry Boy, and Division Three is back in play, not that they’re any match for David.
Also, despite being locked away, Lenny isn’t done yet and as we head towards the season finale, the Shadow King looks ready to bust out of that coffin and cause more chaos David and the rest of Summerland. Strange that Legion just started not that long ago and we’re already at the season finale, but I’m excited for what should be a strong finish.